This 2010 drama, set in the Ozarks Mountain in the U.S. is the story of a community that is deeply rooted in the manufacturing of amphetamines. This is the story of a rural community where keeping your mouth shut is the first commandment.
The director of this movie, Debra Granik, lived for a while in those communities. So it’s only natural that her representation of the community in this movie feels real. It’s bleak, dark, haunting… She shows the poverty, the patriarchy, the holiness of family and everything that this holiness entails, the rural aspect of it in such a brilliant way that at times you feel like you’re watching a documentary about the region. Even the accent was perfected by the actors and actresses that you forget this is actually a quest, more than a community presentation.
The movie stars Jennifer Lawrence, a brilliant newcomer, as Ree Dolly, a girl who’s the only caregiver of her mother, there in body only, and two siblings. She drops them out of school, teaches them to hunt and care for themselves, just in case… Her dad, Jessup, has gone missing and in order to keep her house and property, she needs to find him – dead or alive. Or else she’ll lose everything.
Now insert this in a community that is, the least you can say, non-helpful and very rigid about following the aforementioned first commandment and you get a movie that is thrilling, haunting and deservedly so, nominated for best picture as this year’s Oscars.
Everything in this movie is vicious. Even the moments of silence in it are terrifying. You don’t know what the people of this secluded community would do to harm Ree. And you can’t but feel what Ree is feeling, as the 17 year old girl trying to keep it together.
Jennifer Lawrence is epic in this. She’s my favorite acting performance of this year as the girl who, on her path to find any information about her dad, she will go through everything you don’t expect a 17 year old to live through. She portrays this role with a resilient stubbornness, indicative of the hardships she has gone through but she lets you in certain moments glimpse at her soul. There’s one scene, in a boat, that will leave you shaken to your core. When you watch it, you’ll know.
On her quest in this patriarchy, she must go through the wives, not the men. And the wife portrayed by Dale Dickey is a brilliant contrast: ice-cold, non-caring but human. Ultimately, this is the whole society. Even Ree’s uncle, played by John Hawkes, is at the same time ruthless but loving.
All in all, if you’re up for a movie that is deep, cold, dark and haunting, this is the movie for you.